Labour confident of success in by-election

Party expects to beat SNP in Glasgow just 16 months after heavy loss in city

Labour is quietly confident that history will not repeat itself today when voters go to the polls in a parliamentary by-election in Glasgow North East.

In July last year, the party suffered a spectacular defeat in a by-election in Glasgow East, one of its safest seats, where its 13,507 majority was turned into a 365 winning margin for the Scottish National Party (SNP) – a swing of 22.5 per cent. It provoked the first of two failed attempts by rebel Labour backbenchers to oust Gordon Brown as Prime Minister.

So Labour was understandably jittery about the contest in Glasgow North East, caused by the resignation in June of Michael Martin when he stood down as Commons Speaker and joined the House of Lords. This time, however, there has been little sign of the SNP bandwagon that rolled so strongly last year.

Mr Brown was confident enough of victory to campaign in the contest, in a break with recent tradition. He would probably not have done so had Labour officials privately been predicting defeat. The bookmakers Betfair last night made Labour 1-4 favourites to win the seat, putting the SNP at 4-1 and any other party at 199-1.

The seat, which includes one of Glasgow's most deprived estates, Possil Park, is seen as solid Labour territory. Lord Martin of Springburn, who takes his title from another part of the constituency, had a majority of 10,134 over the SNP at the 2005 election, when there was a 6.6 per cent swing to the SNP. In line with the convention among the three main parties, the Tories and Liberal Democrats did not put up a candidate against the Commons Speaker.

At the European Parliament elections in June, Labour gained 41 per cent of the vote in the constituency, with the SNP on 25 per cent.

Labour officials claim their candidate, William Bain, has outshone the SNP's standard-bearer David Kerr, accusing him of making "gaffes" such as claiming he was born in two different places and not knowing that the level of Jobseeker's Allowance is £64.39 a week. Unemployment is the highest in any Scottish constituency at 12 per cent, well above the national average of 7.9 per cent, and the 17th highest in the UK as a whole.

Mr Bain, a 36-year-old former lift engineer and a payroll clerk who now teaches public law, was joined on the campaign trail by the comedian Eddie Izzard, who said he had a chance encounter with Mr Bain while running a charity marathon in Glasgow during the summer. "I'm very supportive of any Labour Party candidate standing in any election," he said. "It's great that my timing's absolutely perfect playing here in Glasgow. So I can come back and do this properly."

Yesterday, Labour said the poll would be a "referendum on the treatment of Glasgow" by the SNP government in Scotland. It said the budget for the coming year would see a cut in the city's housing budget and a failure to build new schools there.

Mr Kerr, a 35-year-old former BBC journalist who was himself aided by party leader Alex Salmond yesterday, insisted that after 74 years of Labour taking the area for granted, it was time for change. "Voters have seen the success of the last two years of SNP government, and it's time to bring some of that success to Glasgow and to Westminster," he said. "Labour's campaign has been built on smears and scaremongering. It has nothing positive to say about the party's record or ideas for this area." Eileen Baxendale, who is standing for the Liberal Democrats, said: "If people want to wash away years of Labour neglect then they should vote for the Liberal Democrats."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
Buddy DeFranco
people
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
filmIdris Elba responds to James Bond rumours on Twitter
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones
film
News
i100
Sport
Yaya Sanogo, Mats Hummels, Troy Deeney and Adnan Januzaj
footballMost Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Manager

£32000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Manager is required ...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Panel & Cabinet Wireman

£20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Panel Wireman required for small electro...

Recruitment Genius: Electronics Test Engineer

£25000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An SME based in East Cheshire, ...

Day In a Page

Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

Finally, a diet that works

Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

Say it with... lyrics

The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

The joys of 'thinkering'

Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

Monique Roffey interview

The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones
DJ Taylor: Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

It has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Olivia Jacobs & Ben Caplan: 'Ben thought the play was called 'Christian Love'. It was 'Christie in Love' - about a necrophiliac serial killer'

How we met

Olivia Jacobs and Ben Caplan
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's breakfasts will revitalise you in time for the New Year

Bill Granger's healthy breakfasts

Our chef's healthy recipes are perfect if you've overindulged during the festive season
Transfer guide: From Arsenal to West Ham - what does your club need in the January transfer window?

Who does your club need in the transfer window?

Most Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month